Events planned through to St. Patrick’s Day

Photo Illustration by Jamie MacLennan/for metro ottawa


Kate Mosley pours a pint at Mother McGuinty’s in the ByWard Market’s Irish Village. Yes, pints are a part of the festivities, but there’s much more to Ottawa’s Irish Week than just beer as the city goes green and becomes Irish for a week.

In Ottawa, St. Patrick’s Day is about more than green beer and a single day of festivities.

It’s just a small part of Irish Week here, which runs through to St. Patrick’s Day.

The weeklong celebration is a chance for the city’s large Irish population to reconnect with its roots.

"I think it’s quite unique to Ottawa," said Jennifer O’Brien-Tomka, with the Irish Society of the National Capital Region. "It’s really a whole week leading up to a day.

"It’s not just a celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and having a few pints. It’s a celebration of Irish culture and celebrating the roots of the city. There are so many Irish immigrants that helped to build the city. It’s about celebrating the city and how far we’ve come."

Ottawa’s Irish population is much bigger than people think, said O’Brien-Tomka, citing an influx of immigrants from Ireland in the early 1800s.

One of the week’s biggest events is an Irish Wake, scheduled this afternoon at the Heart and Crown in the ByWard Market.

The mock wake is a traditional roast for the previous year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade marshal. This year, David Guilfoyle will be honoured.

The event begins at 4:30 p.m., when a coffin will be loaded into a horse-drawn hearse, followed by a procession through the market. A reading of The Last Will, a play by Elizabeth Logue, and entertainment by The Two Paddies, follow at the Heart and Crown. Tickets are $30 at the door.

The 26th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade is Saturday. Led by Grand Marshal Austin Comerton, the parade leaves city hall and proceeds west on Laurier Avenue and down Bank Street to Lansdowne Park.

This year, the parade features 60 entries and an appearance by St. Patrick. Donations of non-perishable foods for the Ottawa Food Bank will be accepted along the route.

The Grand Irish Party follows from noon to 4 p.m. at Lansdowne Park, featuring music by Mountain Tay, Gail Gavan, Lauren Hall, Robin Averill, Roddy McCann and traditional dance by the Sue Fay Healy Irish Dancers and the Ottawa Fiddle and Step Association.

The Award of Distinction Luncheon at city hall on St. Patrick’s Day will this year honour the founders of the National Irish Canadian Cultural Centre, located downtown at the former St. Brigid’s Church.

Irish origin

  • Many of Ottawa’s settlers helped to build the Rideau Canal and their descendants have remained in the area since. "About 39 per cent of Ottawa’s population today can trace their roots back to Celtic origin," Jennifer O’Brien-Tomka said.

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